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New Year, New Initiatives

by Ken Cerullo, Esq., The Commercial Agency

It’s the beginning of a New Year and many people make resolutions! New Year’s resolutions are many times to lose weight and go to the gym more often, but here are two more worthwhile resolutions: 1) Take a new, “fresh” look at your insurance program and make sure it takes into account any recent changes to your business operations; and 2) Write, Email or Call your State legislator to support a legislative effort that will help your industry and business.

Insurance Review
Many times contractors put their insurance programs on “auto drive” and fail to take a “fresh look” at their policies. Even if your New Year’s resolution were to examine your insurance costs (a good idea), reviewing the actually policy coverages is of the utmost importance to make sure you have coverage when it is needed. While you may invite an agent in to give you a quote, too often unsophisticated agents just ask for “dec sheets” and provide an “apples to apples” quote based on the same incorrect information that you may currently have on your policies. You need to have the correct named insureds, coverages, limits, equipment, etc. You pay a great deal of money towards insurance – you should make sure you and your agent take the time to make sure information is correct and target the coverages you actually need in the most cost effective way. After all, it does not cost anymore to do it right and that is why you are paying your agent a commission!

It’s advantageous to have annual meetings with your insurance agent so the agent can prod you along and force you to think about the insurance aspects of any changes you may make to your business operations. You are thinking about other things – payroll, hiring, new jobs, customer issues, etc. You are not always thinking about insurance. That’s why you have an agent. Maybe you changed the address of your office? Maybe you now store your materials somewhere else? Or park your vehicles and equipment elsewhere? Maybe you bought a new snow plow at a cost of $3,000 to $4,000? Maybe your business is now renting from you individually and you only have your company name on the policy? These are all little things with big consequences.

By way of example, let’s say that you bought a new snow plow for the upcoming season, you need to discuss with your agent how to best cover your new business investment. That particular piece of equipment should probably be scheduled on your policy as opposed to being covered by the miscellaneous tool floater you may or may not have on your policy. Those miscellaneous tool floater policies many times have a limit of $1,000 to $2,500 for any particular piece of equipment in which case you would be underinsured (especially if you bought 3 new plows and they all got stolen).

A Call to Action! Please contact your State Legislator in Support of the Snow Plow and Deicing Liability Limitations Bill!

Great News to start a New Year!. On January 23, the ASCA’s model legislation – Snow Plow and Deicing Liability Limitations Bill (New Jersey Senate Bill 181) was passed by the NJ Senate with special thanks to Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, our NJ Senators, Kevin Gilbride (the Executive Director of the ASCA), and Tom Castronovo.

However, passing the NJ Senate is ONLY one step in the legislative (law making) process. In order to become law, the bill still needs to be voted on and passed by the General Assembly before it even reaches the Governor for signature.

If this bill eventually became law, hold harmless agreements and indemnification clauses in which property owners pass on their liability to you will no longer be enforceable. This will hopefully result in reduced insurance premiums for snow plowing operations and provide an incentive for property owners to take appropriate actions to reduce their liability (and maybe even more work for you).

Accordingly, we need every NJLCA member to spread the word, and at the VERY LEAST contact your Assemblyperson to support this bill.

I WILL MAKE IT EASY FOR YOU. Please contact me directly at kennethc@thecommercialagency.com and provide me your home town. I will email you back with the name of your assemblyperson and number to call.

The information set forth in this article is general in nature and no legal advice is being given. Insureds are recommended to speak with their own insurance agent and attorney to discuss their own particular risk exposures and needs.

Kenneth F. Cerullo, Esq. is the President and an Owner of The Commercial Agency, Inc. in Park Ridge, NJ along with his brother Steve. He is also a Co-Founder of the New Jersey Agents Alliance (NJAA) – a limited group of select agents spread throughout the State of NJ with over $175 Million is premium volume. Ken currently serves as the Legislative Chairperson for the NJLCA and can be reached by email at kennethc@thecommercialagency.com or (201) 391-1324. You can also visit the Agency websites at www.thecommercialagency.com or www.bergensnowplowinsurance.com

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